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  • Writer's pictureTommy Centola

Recipes from Charity cookbook

anuary 28th will be the 42nd annual Chef’s Charity for Children. The proceeds from the charity benefits St. Michael’s Special School. This event is one of the oldest food related charities in the country. The Chef’s Charity was founded by Chef Warren Leruth and Phil Johnson, the news director for WWL-TV in New Orleans. They wanted to put together a group of their chef friends to demonstrate and serve their dishes while benefiting St. Michaels.

This event has been held since 1978. Every year, a special celebrity chef is invited to participate. They have ranged from Jeff Smith, the Frugal Gourmet to Dom DeLuise. For the 20th anniversary, Chef Warren Leruth, who was no longer in the restaurant business, was the celebrity. In the beginning, the chefs would donate all of the food being served so that all of the money would go to St. Michaels. Now, with sponsors, the chef’s donate their time for this worthy cause. Today, I am sharing with you three recipes from the cookbooks that are given to the people who attend this event: Shrimp Cortez, Artichoke and Crabmeat Beignets and Estelle’s Brownies.

The first recipe comes from the originator of the New Orleans School of Cooking, Joe Cahn. Joe was known around the country as the Commissioner of Tailgating. Unfortunately, New Orleans lost this treasure on December 31st. Fortunately, we have his recipes to remember him by. This is a recipe that he demonstrated one year.

Shrimp Cortez

1 pound Pasta

1 stick Butter (1/4 pound)

3/4 cup chopped Green Onions

1 1/2 teaspoon Garlic, minced

1/4 pound Tasso, diced small

1 pound peeled Shrimp (large)

1/2 pint Heavy Whipping Cream

1/8-1/4 cup Sherry (to taste)

1 tablespoon Joe’s Stuff or any exceptional seasoning blend

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and chill by running under cold water. Add oil to keep separate. Melt butter in a large skillet and sauté onions for 2 to 3 minutes. Add garlic, Tasso, and shrimp tails. Sauté 2 to 4 minutes or until shrimp are about half cooked. Add whipping cream and Joe’s Stuff. Cook for 2 to 4 minutes over medium heat until sauce thickens. Add pasta to pan and toss well. Add sherry. Toss. Serve immediately.

Here is a recipe from Larry and Lee Leruth. They are the talented sons of Warren Leruth, from whom they bought LeRuth’s restaurant. Beignets are traditionally served with powdered sugar and coffee. These, however, are very savory and make a wonderful appetizer.

Artichoke and Crabmeat Beignets

1 bunch Green Onions white part only chopped

¼ cup chopped Pimentos

4 ounces chopped Artichoke Hearts

2 large toes Fresh Garlic chopped fine

1 tablespoon chopped Parsley

¼ teaspoon Cayenne Pepper

¼ teaspoon Salt

1 pint Flour

1 pint Water

2 teaspoons Baking Powder

1 pound Jumbo Lump Crabmeat

Mix flour and baking powder. Add chopped artichoke, green onions, garlic, parsley, and pimentos. Add salt and Cayenne pepper. Add water and mix until batter is well blended. Fold in crabmeat. Fry in Peanut Oil at 350 degrees until golden brown. Use tablespoon to drop batter into oil.

My final recipe is from the founder of the Chef’s Charity, Chef Warren Leruth. Estelle was Warren’s mother. This recipe not only appeared in the Chef’s Charity cookbook but also in one of the two cookbooks Chef Warren wrote. The Vanilla Bean Marinade was a creation of his. He used it in all of his baking. Please substitute Pure Vanilla Extract for it.

Estelle’s Brownies

3 squares Bitter Chocolate (3 squares)

1/2 stick Butter

2 Eggs

1 1/2 cups Sugar

1 cup Cake Flour

1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder

1/4 teaspoon Salt

1 teaspoon LeRuth’s Vanilla Bean Marinade (sub Pure Vanilla extract)

1 cup Pecan Pieces

Place chocolate and butter to melt in a double boiler. Mix eggs, sugar, salt, and vanilla for 5 minutes. Add chocolate and butter. Add 1 cup flour, baking powder and last, pecans. Pour into a 9×9 inch pan (greased). Bake at 350℉ for 25 minutes.

My mother was a regular at this event. I have had the pleasure of attending a few of these. The food alone makes this a must attend event. The fact that it benefits St. Michaels Special School makes the food taste even better.

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